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Debating A Theist: The Infinite Ladder
My still current Debating Theist (MG) insists that if there is a past temporal infinity, then it is impossible to reach the present since you must participate in an infinite number of events before you can arrive at a current event. He introduced the “infinite ladder” analogy and how if you climb such a ladder, you will never reach the top. However, he has muddled his own analogy quite a lot, as the following series of exchanges made over many moons, and which I have tinkered with, demonstrate.
My main distinction here is that if you have a finite lifespan and you started an infinite amount of time ago, then clearly you cannot reach the present. However, if you are lucky enough to have an infinite lifespan, such as an up quark (which cannot be created or destroyed), then there is no problem. A finite lifetime can only span a finite period of time; an infinite lifetime is not subject to such restrictions.
[Note: previous to-and-fro discussions resulted in the following exchanges.]
MG – “As such, you have a series where each event is closer to a line than the previous ones, and eventually the series comes to that line. Infinite series can’t do that. It’s like having a infinite number of rungs on a ladder, but pretending to have reached this peak just now is incoherent.
JP – If you climbed a ladder with infinite rungs, why would you claim to have reached the top? We have already agreed that infinity has no endpoints – no vertex in other words.
MG – “If you agree that you can’t climb to the top of an infinite ladder and you see someone at the top, the correct conclusion is that the ladder wasn’t infinite after all!!”
JP – Wow! It’s 1) incorrect to use the word “you” since “you” is a finite event, and 2) you’ve destroyed all logic by saying that “you see someone at the top”. Since I said infinity has no endpoints, it makes no sense for me to assert that I see someone (again a mistake since someone is also a finite event) at the endpoint .
MG – “The scale is the series of past events (not ‘moments’; ‘events’, like the Civil War, my breakfast this morning, etc.) and it ends at the present event (me typing this sentence) because that’s what “past” MEANS. I have gone through all the rungs of the PAST series of events and I am at the top (the present event). But, as you said , you cannot reach the top of an infinite ladder. Therefore, the past is not infinite.”
JP 1 – It is more than possible to go from an infinite past to the here-and-how if you yourself have an infinite lifespan. It’s not a difficult concept.
JP 2 – Of course “you” can’t since humans have a finite lifespan, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, especially if you don’t actually have a finite lifespan. Now, if you take infinite time and infinite events, the two infinities cancel each other out and you only have time and events. You can go through any number of events if you have enough time. You can go through an infinite number of events if you have infinite time. I’m just going to replace something that doesn’t have a finite lifespan (i.e. “you”) with something that does, say an up quark. In fact, it doesn’t matter when you argue for the first cause for now. Just tell me how old an up quark really is.
MG – “It was a current event, just like every rung of the ladder below me was once the current rung. I still can’t complete an ascent of infinite steps. It’s logically inconsistent. It challenges even your definition of “infinity”, and you know it.”
JP – Of course, YOU cannot climb an infinite ladder since you are a temporally finite event. But if something (ie an up quark) is a temporally infinite “event”, then I don’t see the problem.
MG – “So your argument is ‘well, I agree that you can’t get to the top of a ladder with infinite rungs, but… I guess that infinite particle MUST have, since it is here and it is infinite “?”
JP – The proof of the pudding is in the eating. A temporally infinite particle [like an up-quark] is just in the here and now. As far as I know he dug a tunnel in a wormhole, but here he is. Now you can negate this by “creating” the particle out of existence, thereby disproving or negating the idea that a particle is invincible!
MG-“[A]And you can’t get away with saying “the proof is in the pudding”.
JP – But the proof IS in the pudding. The Cosmos is infinite and yet there are particles here and now. Go with it! Now, even though there is an infinite past and an infinite future, your concept of “the present moment” where we find these particles has to fall somewhere on that timeline. Let’s call it High Noon in New York (NYC). There was a High Noon in New York the day before. There will be a High Noon in New York the next day. It’s okay to time travel that finite interval between High Noon the day before “The Present Moment” and High Noon the day after “The Present Moment” – a 48-hour period. The existence of an infinite past/future is irrelevant. Now keep pushing this concept back and forth as far and as far as your imagination can imagine.
MG – “From this particle’s frame of reference, something is happening right now, regardless of how the other frames of reference view ‘now’. And, if its lifetime is infinite, then it has gone through and completed a truly infinite number of events before the current one, it now passes. Correct?”
JP – Yes.
MG – “But it can’t actually take an infinite number of steps to a point; it would be like climbing an infinite ladder and actually getting to the first rung. It’s impossible. You’ve already accepted that. Basically, just like R [another poster]you continue to agree with both premises, but refuse to accept the conclusion.”
JP – If you have a finite lifespan, you can accomplish a finite journey. By this same reasoning, if you have an infinite lifespan, you can accomplish an infinite journey (i.e. – an infinity up to this point you name), even if there is still a journey infinity before you. Infinity (from past to “point”) plus infinity (from “point” to future” always equals infinity.
MG – “I completely understand your saying that a particle with an infinite lifetime could be in the middle of an infinite number of events, but what I’m saying is that it can’t actually have COMPLETED a number infinite number of events before its current event, because that would conceptually be equivalent to climbing to the TOP of a ladder with infinite rungs. matter/energy or whatever)?”
JP – No. Wouldn’t you agree that your infinite God couldn’t have accomplished an infinite number of events before creating life, the Universe and everything according to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? If your God could do that, then a particle with an infinite lifespan could have done the same. If your God could not accomplish an infinite number of events before His “In the beginning”, then He is not almighty now, is He?
MG – “No, even God cannot have completed a truly infinite number of events before a point…Completing a truly infinite sequence before a point is logically inconsistent. It violates the very concept of ‘infinity’.
JP – Wow! Now I thought your invisible magic man in the sky had some control over the weather. I was mistaken. Shame! I guess that means a particle with an infinite lifetime is more powerful than your invisible magic man in the sky.
MG – “But you admitted that an infinite set of stages cannot be completed, and that an infinitely long-lived particle would have passed through an infinite number of events before its current event. This is equivalent to saying that a ladder with infinite rungs cannot be scaled to the top, and yet this particle has done so. It is a contradiction…”
JP – Speaking of contradictions, “infinite rungs” and “top” is a logical contradiction quite unworthy of you. Anyway, the answer is “No”. Even if the particle has only reached half of the top of your scale, it has still gone through an infinite number of steps.
MG – “So the problem with reaching the highest rung of an infinite ladder isn’t that it’s logically impossible to complete an infinite one; it’s just that the climber hasn’t lived long enough. ?That’s nonsense.You’ve already accepted an infinite number of steps can’t be completed before a point because the very concept of infinity is that it’s never completed.But then you throw away blithely put that aside when it would mean the particle must have done something logically impossible or else your worldview needs to adjust and the past had a beginning.”
JP – If all answers are answers, not all answers are answers! Now here’s this – there’s a big difference between having an infinite lifespan (like a particle) and having a finite lifespan (like you). You cannot climb an infinite ladder and live to tell the tale; an elementary particle can continue to continue. Even a particle will never reach the end since there is no end to infinity, so your assertion that there is an “upper rung of an infinite ladder” is in itself a totally absurd assertion. You are the one I remember who introduced the ridiculous idea or concept of “the top rung of an infinite ladder”.
MG – “Anyway, you didn’t get the ladder analogy.”
JP – I understand that contrary to your assertions, my statement is that you cannot have a higher rung on an infinite ladder. Case closed.
Aren’t there an infinite number of lines (rungs on a ladder analogy) you could draw between the start line and the finish line of a race? And yet, you can both start and finish the race!
Now the question for readers is, who is right? MG or JP?
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